Big band sounds are centre stage

The eight-piece line-up of Five Star Swing, at the Queen Mother Theatre in Hitchin on June 2

The eight-piece line-up of Five Star Swing, at the Queen Mother Theatre in Hitchin on June 2 - Credit: Archant

As the team at Five Star Swing were telling Paul Weller, Dame Vera Lynn, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, nobody likes a name-dropper.

The 11-piece line-up of Five Star Swing, at the Queen Mother Theatre in Hitchin on June 2

The 11-piece line-up of Five Star Swing, at the Queen Mother Theatre in Hitchin on June 2 - Credit: Archant

But there’s no denying that the troupers who make up this swinging ensemble have links to all those A-list stars of today and yesterday.

The band, which has deep roots in North Herts and Hitchin, is criss-crossing the country on a national Poppy Appeal tour which kicked off at London’s Leicester Square Theatre.

And they’ve got a home-town gig coming up at Hitchin’s Queen Mother Theatre next Thursday, June 2.

The name of the show is, appropriately, The Big Band and an evening of vintage swing is promised. There will be classic songs made famous by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, standards which were once served up by Glenn Miller and his merry men, and lots of other treats as well.


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The cool collective of multi-instrumentalists and singers has been seen on BBC TV Children in Need appeal and appeared at Dame Vera Lynn’s charity ball, and the show is led by bandleader Chris Smith Jr who in his time has been composer and arranger for the BBC Radio Big Band and a composer for the Herb Miller Big Band, helmed by Glenn’s brother.

Along with Tony Bennett’s trombonists also featured is vocalist and saxophonist Simone, who was taught to play alto saxophone in the 1970s by the famous bandleader Ivy Benson.

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Simone has recorded with Paul Weller and appeared on TV showcases for Paul Merton and Russell Harty show.

Trumpet player Barry Beech said: “Fans have enjoyed this music for generations and I’m excited to be bringing the sound of our big band brass, saxes, rhythm and vocalists to my home town.”

It all kicks off at 7.30pm and tickets are from £13 – call 01462 455166 or visit www.qmt.org.uk.

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